Jesse Marsch bemoaned the way Leeds United allowed Manchester City to “manipulate” them in their defeat at Elland Road, explaining how his former pupil Erling Haaland was influential.
Leeds returned to Premier League action on Wednesday with the daunting task of hosting Manchester City. They fell three goals down, with Rodri scoring in stoppage time of the first half before the Leeds-born Haaland added a brace for the Premier League champions after the break.
Pascal Struijk pulled one back for Marsch’s men within the last 20 minutes, but there was to be no comeback.
Leeds have now suffered consecutive defeats in the Premier League, separated by the break for the World Cup, and end the day just as they started it on 15 points.
They are just two points above the relegation zone after 15 games, which admittedly is one match fewer than most of the teams around them have played.
Taking on City was always going to be a tough challenge and won’t necessarily be the kind of game they are judged on, but Marsch felt there were ways Leeds could have handled proceedings better.
Marsch told BBC Sport: “One thing you know about Man City is that they are able to manipulate the game with possession and unbalance you but they were able to get us on the transition twice and there was a give away from us which gifted them a goal.
“It was a little disappointing, the timing of the goals.
“When City get out of too many tight spaces, they catch you on the other side and make you run a lot and then it becomes a battle of attrition and they get their chance because we are tired. We could have won more balls for sure.”
Marsch identifies ‘infectious’ Haaland impact
Marsch will have been prepared for an impactful performance from Haaland, whom he used to manage at RB Salzburg.
It was perhaps inevitable that the Norway international – whose father Alf-Inge used to play for Leeds – would score in the city of his birth.
And although he was on the receiving end of Haaland’s threat this time around, Marsch labelled the 22-year-old as one of his favourite players.
The Leeds boss said: “Haaland has an uncanny ability to know where to be to score goals and a hunger like I have never seen before. It is infectious in the team. It is a desire that spreads through the team.
“I don’t know whether Man City are my favourites for the league but Haaland is one of my favourite players to watch.”
As for Leeds’ current predicament, Marsch concluded: “We have work to do, we need to get a couple of guys healthy but I want to get our heads down to get better and not be in a relegation battle. We need to work hard.”
Leeds are next in action on New Year’s Eve with an away match at Newcastle.